Is Hertel Avenue the new Elmwood? Well, if it is, it needs more than just nightlife spots and hip restaurants. It needs neighborhood places like Roots Coffee and Tea.
Opened in July, the new café is like an Anne Geddes photo; a breath of fresh air on the chill east end of Hertel. Owner Maggie Shaw and business partner Alyssa Capri have put together an intimate little café with Zen vibes, which sits right across from the Lexington Co-Op.
“We’ve always been Elmwood Village people,” Maggie told us, referring to her and her fiancé.
“But since we purchased a house (off of Hertel), we started walking our dogs down the street and taking in all the business going up and all these new people moving into the area. So, we really fell in love with the neighborhood and the feel of the neighborhood.
“The biggest difference that I’ve noticed since we moved into North Buffalo is that everything feels tighter and more compact. It’s very walkable. We take our dogs for a walk and we can do the entire Hertel strip in an evening. There’s a lot of variety in a smaller amount of space. It’s a more neighborhood feel and more of that feel where, in Buffalo, everybody knows everybody.”
Roots is not your typical third wave coffee shop. Instead of feeling like a premium coffee and tea destination, it feels more like a neighborhood spot where people stop with kids in strollers, or their dog on a leash. There is counter space and tables for pounding out your latest laptop masterpiece and a small patio for people watching. Fresh flowers and succulents liven up the décor and add to the relaxing atmosphere.
“In the short time we’ve been open, we’ve already had people come in and get the same drink, and that’s exactly what we were hoping for,” Maggie said. “We really wanted to open a neighborhood coffee shop.”
Currently, the focus is primarily on liquids: pour-over coffee, espresso-based drinks, loose leaf teas and kombucha. The all-natural drink syrups that are available are made in-house, and the chocolate used for mochas is a high-grade Belgium cocoa powder. On our visit, macaroons and scones were available, and we were told that more food offerings will be rolled out in the coming weeks.
Alyssa and Maggie told us the name Roots is a nod to the café’s focus on natural ingredients and sustainability.
“We felt like because we’re serving something from the agricultural community, we wanted to respect that and honor it,” Alyssa said. “So, we decided to go with plant-based cups that are compostable. We try to encourage people who are staying here to use glassware. It’s also important for us to get organic products, sustainable farm produce and everything we use is as local as possible.”
With so many businesses popping up on Hertel these days, it can be hard to keep track of them all, but Roots is one worth keeping an eye on, and if you live or work in North Buffalo, it’s one worth stopping into on a regular basis.
Roots Coffee and Tea
1685 Hertel Avenue, Buffalo, New York 14216
Hours: Monday to Friday 7 a.m. – 3 p.m., Saturday 9 a.m. – 5 p.m., Sunday 9 a.m. – 3 p.m.